Have you been in a wireless phone store lately?

If you’ve have, you’ll notice a dramatic change. If you ask for a “cell phone”, and not a “smartphone”, the choices will be few and limited. The world is quickly moving to smartphones with data plans, and in 2011 they will outsell their traditional cell phone cousins. With more than 93% penetration of Americans now using wireless devices, the impact of this change is significant.

Obviously the inclusion of data plans provides additional revenue for wireless companies. They obviously like that. But more importantly, it puts greater purchasing and communications power in the hands of the consumer. Making a phone call is merely “greens fees” for a smartphone. The “smart” part comes with email access, social media access and the avalanche of apps which enable communication, entertainment, and e-commerce. We’re merely at the starting gate of the power of commerce that can be generated from a smartphone.

There are a few key drivers to the changes in mobile media:

 1. Apps - an incredible connection to information about products services  

 2. Social media - roughly half of Facebook and twitter usage is through a smartphone

3. Personal info of interest—sports, weather, traffic, news, etc.

According to eMarketer, U.S. smartphones now exceed 73 million, representing 31% of the total mobile user population. And obviously the mobile universe is now expanding into a full spectrum of connected mobile devices, including the explosion of the iPad and other tablets.

Apps like ShopKick reward the user for physically visiting locations with “kickbucks” which can be turned into prizes and money. Groupon delivers coupon with deep value from area businesses. Bar code scanners can help a customer price shop. And mobile ads interestingly provide ideas for products and services a consumer might seek all enabled by the GPS locaters. Yes, Big Brother is watching. But he wants to help us all spend our money wisely. But wait, there’s more over the horizon—the smartphone will probably vie for and/or replace credit cards in the future, and will likely be a portal to all types of information, both business and personal.  

A communication and commerce revolution is underway, which has profound implications for business and increasing power in the hands of the consumer. And yes, you can still call your mother with your smartphone too, and she can remind you to wear your coat when it’s cold outside.